Proposed legislation in Virginia would require colleges and universities to provide free housing for students from foster care during summer, spring and winter breaks.
With House Bill 1403 from Republican Delegate Ann Tata of Virginia Beach, lawmakers aim to prevent housing instability for students who may not have another place to go during those school hiatuses, and to increase their odds of staying in school. While many youth in foster care enroll in college, road bumps abound that can throw them off the path, resulting in less than 10% achieving a degree.
Between 400 and 500 youth age out of Virginia’s foster care system each year, Virginia Mercury reports, citing a statement from the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Children’s Home Society of Virginia.
Students would have to be enrolled for the term following the break for which they seek housing in order to qualify, and must fit the definition in the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, meaning that they “lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence” other than their school housing. The bill only applies to higher education institutions that offer housing.
The bill unanimously passed the House’s education subcommittee last week and is now on the House floor.